Thursday, April 14, 2016

"The Great Fear: Stalin's Terror of the 1930s"

New from Oxford University Press: The Great Fear: Stalin's Terror of the 1930s by James Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between the winter of 1936 and the autumn of 1938, approximately three quarters of a million Soviet citizens were subject to summary execution. More than a million others were sentenced to lengthy terms in labor camps. Commonly known as "Stalin's Great Terror," these events are also among the most misunderstood moments in the history of the twentieth century. The Terror gutted the ranks of factory directors and engineers in three years, and raged through the armed forces on the eve of the Nazi invasion. The wholesale slaughter of party and state officials endangered the Soviet state, making the country all but ungovernable.

The majority of the Terror's victims were accused of participating in counter-revolutionary conspiracies, though there was rarely any substance to the state's claims or material evidence to support their accusations. By the time the Terror ended, most of its victims were ordinary Soviet citizens for whom "counter-revolution" was an unfathomable abstraction. In short, the Terror was wholly destructive, not merely in terms of the incalculable human cost, but also in terms of the interests of the Soviet leaders, principally Joseph Stalin at its helm.

The Great Fear presents a new and original explanation of Stalin's Terror based on intelligence materials in Russian archives. It shows how Soviet leaders developed a grossly exaggerated fear of conspiracy and foreign invasion and lashed out at enemies largely of their own making.
--Marshal Zeringue